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RIOTORO CR280 Compact Mini-ITX Chassis Review

RIOTORO's CR280 compact Mini-ITX computer case goes under the spotlight today. Can you get nice things at an affordable price? It seems so.

@chad_sebring
Published Tue, May 9 2017 8:14 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:58 PM CST
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: RIOTORO

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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To us, Riotoro appeared out of nowhere, as before we were asked to have a look at a couple of their cases, we had no idea of their existence. The name translates to river bull, and funny enough this has to do with their core values. In this we mean that Riotoro is striving to be an honest company that tells no lies or exaggerates the truth, there is strictly a no bull policy at Riotoro. While trying to be unique and innovative, the plan is to keep an open line of communication with their customers, as Riotoro realizes that without a solid customer base, there is no purpose to their existence.

Not only does Riotoro makes cases, but they appear to have a full line of products. Along with four cases currently on offer, Riotoro also has a trio of power supplies in ranging power to match. Taking on more markets, they have liquid CPU coolers that go by the name of Bifrost, they have AUROX mice, a Ghostwriter keyboard, a couple of types of fans, and they also offer t-shirts, jackets, and headwear. For what we perceive as a freshly started company, they do seem to have their act together, and we hope to see more products from Riotoro in the future for testing.

With all that out of the way, we would now like to introduce you to the Riotoro CR280, the smallest chassis in the lineup. This Mini-ITX chassis has quite a bit going for it out of the gate. This chassis allows for a full-sized PSU to go in it; there is room for liquid cooling, there is modularity in the design along with an aesthetically pleasing look. Since the market seems to be moving away from the full-tower designs of the past and is moving in the directing to reducing the PC footprint down to the essentials, Riotoro has followed suit and has delivered a contender for your hard-earned dollar. If Mini-ITX cases are your go-to choice for your next build, or possibly you are interested in what Riotoro is all about; either way we feel that the best way to get to know someone or something is face to face. With that said, let's get right down to it and see just what this CR280 from Riotoro is all about.

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The specifications offered by Riotoro on the CR280 are not exactly what we would call thorough, but they do send out the basic idea. The CR280 is covered by a three-year warranty, and is 7.3 pounds in weight. The format of the design is Mini-ITX, and supports Mini-ITX motherboards only. Dimensionally the CR280 is 320mm deep, it is 203.2mm in width, and stands 330.2mm tall. The maximum length of a video card to be housed inside is 290mm, and as to CPU coolers, they can be no taller than 135mm. The CR280 will accept a standard ATX power supply, but does to the bay configuration, can be limited to 185mm. The last thing we have explained for us about the CR280 is that there are two expansion slots in the back.

Riotoro mentions nothing of the all steel construction of the chassis, or that it is black, or that it sports red accents. They do not even attempt to describe the storage options, of which there are a couple. One set of bays is screwed onto the floor of the chassis and is capable of housing a pair of 3.5" drives, and this set of bays can be removed. For additional storage, the right third of the motherboard tray has locations which will support a pair of 2.5" drives as well. Riotoro also makes sure that this chassis has some airflow out of the box, which is handled by a pair of FBK120 120mm fans, one in the front, and one at the back.

In the information we were provided via emails before receiving the case, we were made aware of the $54.99 MSRP of the CR280, and we feel that it is fair for what you get. Looking for the chassis out in the wild, we see that both Amazon and Newegg have stock and are ready to sell you the CR280. Amazon is the most expensive route to take at this time, with their current page listing this chassis for $56.99, but that does come with free shipping to Prime members. However, to get the best deal to be had, look to Newegg for this chassis. It is there in which we found the CR280 for just $47.48, which offers free shipping too, and not just to Premier members. One thing is for certain, Riotoro has made sure that the CR280 is at least affordable if nothing else.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

Packaging

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As is the trend, Riotoro does not waste money on a fancy box that gets tossed in the bin the day the chassis arrives. In plain cardboard, we find screen printing showing us the RIOTORO name and the T logo, as well as an image of the chassis next to the CR280 naming. In the thick black bar at the bottom, we see that the CR280 is labeled as a Mini Tower ITX.

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When it comes to a side panel on chassis packaging, there are not many that are this simple. Riotoro used a lot of black ink on this panel just to have a spot for the large T logo.

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The back of the box offers up three renderings of the chassis with views from the top, inside of it, and from the front, while including two fans. While on site the information about specifications is cut short, the lower section of the back panel delivers all aspects of what this chassis has to offer.

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The last side of the packaging is back to simplicity. There is a black T logo at the top of the panel, but the bulk of it is used to allow shipping labels to be placed on it. We can also see that at the bottom of the box, not only is the company name there, but also the web address to look at the CR280 or other products in detail.

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Sticking to what has always worked in the past, Riotoro ships the CR280 initially wrapped up inside of a plastic bag. Once that is out of the way, the chassis sits in and is topped with thick Styrofoam caps, and Riotoro also adds a panel of it to cover the front bezel. All of these components of the packaging worked as intended. The box looked a bit rough around the edges, but inside we find our CR280 to be safe and sound with no visible damage.

RIOTORO CR280 Mini-ITX Chassis

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The front of the CR280 is made of one solid expanse of steel, which is rounded at the corners, and has the company name broadcasted at the top in red letters. Most of the panel is ventilated with various sized holes drilled through it, which leaves room for the front I/O panel at the bottom.

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Within the front I/O panel, we are given what we expect to see in a case made today. There is a power button on the left, in the middle are a pair of USB 3.0 ports on either side of the HD Audio jacks, and to the right is a small reset button. Right smack in the middle is an amber HDD activity LED, but the power LED is under the bezel, and will glow red to match the chassis.

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The top of the chassis is drilled to match the front bezel, but here, the area has been countersunk into the frame a bit. Plastic pins are holding in a dust filter, and it is plain to see the eight holes for 120mm fan mounting.

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The bright red trim line we saw in the top panel runs down both sides of the chassis and separates the bezel from the side panels. On the left side here, we find a T logo at the top of the door, just to the right of the tinted window.

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Behind the CR280 we find room for the rear I/O panel and a 120mm exhaust fan at the top of it. Next in line is a pair of expansion slots which are accessed externally under the plastic cap, and the bottom is wide open to accept a PSU.

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Riotoro could have simply stayed with just the red accent stripe running down the front for aesthetics, but they chose to add a bit more style to match the other side too. This is why we see the T logo again, which has been formed into the steel.

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The feet found under the CR280 are made of hard rubber, and while sufficient in footing, do not sit nearest the edges of the frame. At the back of the case is a removable dust filter for the PSU, and at the front is a ventilated area with thumbscrews visible. The mesh is there to aid in cooling the HDD rack, while the screws are there to remove it.

Inside the CR280

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Removing the front bezel is complicated. There are tightly bent metal tabs which hold the panel onto the frame, and there is a lot of wiggling and jiggling to get it removed. Once out of the way, we find that the wiring is attached to the frame, and we also find a pair of dust filters, one for each fan location.

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The first look into the depths of this design shows that the CR280 is quite opened up. The wires are laying in there behind the motherboard tray, and to keep the hardware in place, it is shipped inside of the HDD cage.

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Hanging from the front of the chassis, all the way at the top is this FBK120 120mm fan which is powered with a 3-pin connection. There are no LEDs in these fans, but it does push quite a bit of air.

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On the floor of the CR280, still at the front of the case, we find the swivel rack for HDD mounting. The swivel aspect addresses the fact that the frame blocks installation at this time, and as mentioned, it is removable to allow for additional cooling in the front such as a 240mm radiator.

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The motherboard tray offers four holes to pass wires through, six if you count the ones where the 2.5" drives can mount near the front, five tie points, and a good-sized opening for CPU cooler backplate access. The offset to the motherboard is just over an inch, which will allow for fans to go in at the top, but water cooling may cause conflicts.

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We have removed the HDD bay to show how much room is available on the floor of the chassis, but with it still installed, the amount of room for the PSU is quite short. To support the PSU there are four small rubber pads in place, and large holes in it for the fan to breathe easily.

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The back of the chassis is where the second FBK120 fan is found, and it is an identical match to that found in the front. We can also see the thumbscrews which are used to mount expansion cards, but this is done on the outside, leaving the back panel flat from top to bottom.

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Behind the motherboard tray, there is more than enough space to get things handled. Wiring to the HDD cages is wide open for access, wiring to the optional 2.5" drives is all ready to go, but we have no idea what the little bracket near the bottom is for. While it appears to be for an additional HDD location, the spacing in the brackets pins is off.

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The black wires which blend into the build are of enough length to easily reach any motherboard orientation and includes everything you need. There are leads for the reset and power button, and another set for the power LED found under the chassis. There are also thicker cables for the HD Audio and USB 3.0 connections, but there is plenty of room to hide them away in this design.

Hardware & Documentation

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The hardware which is included to finish the build process is all right in front of you. There is a pair of thumbscrews to lock hard drives in the pair of cages, four motherboard screws, and a set of four long fan screws to use in the front of the CR280. The bottom row offers eight rubber washers to help isolate fans from the chassis, and they also ship another eight smaller fan screws so that you can use fans in the top as well.

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What is left to locate in the white box of hardware are the six zip-ties used to tame the wires, and a set of eight thumbscrews. This set of thumbscrews is M3 threaded, and are intended to be used to mount the 2.5" drives to the motherboard tray.

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Riotoro tries to save some money on the installation guide by using an insert with a QR code. This means that to get any instructional help, you must have an internet connection available to access them. There is also a smaller insert covering the warranty limitations and offers information about the company if you should need to make contact with them.

Case Build & Finished Product

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With no optical drive bay, the front of the chassis does not change in its appearance fro0m beginning to end. With the ventilation, the way it is, what could dress the look of this chassis up a bit would be a pair of red LED fans.

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Our GTX 970 we typically use is longer than OEM video cards, so we opted to go with a smaller card in this build. However, once we removed the HDD cage, we found plenty of room for everything we needed to install. While we did hide most of the SSD, we do like that we can use a fat radiator in the front and still have room for a pump and reservoir, if needed.

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We did install a dust shield in the rear I/O and had no issues to discuss there. The video card is easy to install since it is done from the back of the case, and the PSU Riotoro sent to use with this chassis fits great.

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Behind the motherboard tray; we were able to fit quite a bit in. Considering there is room for the thickness of a 3.5" drive here, there were no complications from the fat 24-pin wire or grouping the front I/O wires like we did. The panel slid right back into place without even a hint of resistance.

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Stepping back to take it all in, we are pleased with the styling and appearance of the CR280. The side panel window is not so large that you see the PSU or the HDD cage, but even though it is slightly tinted, we can see our components inside no problem.

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Once we powered up the system, we immediately noticed two things. First is the amount of noise coming from the fans, and the reading we took was 38 dB. The second thing we noticed is that under the bezel, there is a single red LED which adds a bit of a glow to the front of the chassis as light spills onto the desk.

Final Thoughts

In the CR280, we find that Riotoro is a company worth keeping our eye on. They may use thinner metal for the construction, but it is done for weight reduction because even stripped down this chassis is seriously solid. We like the black and red theme, as it goes along with many components on the market today, and the glow of red LED under the front does not hurt the aesthetics one bit. While this is a cube style case, gently rounding the edges supplies this design with an elegant feel to it, and even though we know you can pack a ton of gear inside of it. The CR280 is a bit of a "sleeper" as it sits there calmly as it cools your components and protects them from dust while you game away with it sitting next to you.

We appreciated the modularity ion this design, which allowed us to remove the HDD cage for two benefits. The first one is that you can install a longer PSU if desired, and the second is that it makes a bunch of room for water cooling components. Having the pair of 2.5" drive locations on the motherboard tray, and a way to rig a 3.5" drive behind the tray, the HDD cage will likely not be missed. Speaking of the HDD bracket behind the motherboard tray, this was the only miss in the design from what we can tell. The pins on the floor of the chassis or those of the bracket did not line up with our HDD of choice as the pins are too close together. Outside of that, we feel that the layout and features are better than we expected for the price.

Considering this chassis can be had for less than $50, we find it to be feature rich and well thought out. Even with the company name brightly displayed across the front of the case, having the thin red line around it, and even when it comes down to the pair of T logos on the sides, we feel that many customers can appreciate what Riotoro is doing here. Based on the fact that we found this CR280 Mini-ITX chassis available for just $47.48 at Newegg, we can find no real reason to attempt to dissuade you from buying this chassis. Riotoro may be new to the scene, but they have proved themselves to be value oriented with a firm ear on the pulse of the market, and is indeed able to deliver a case in which many will find them to be a perfect fit to their next Mini-ITX build.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance93%
Quality94%
Features90%
Value95%
Overall93%

The Bottom Line: With such a low cost involved, the CR280 from Riotoro shines! The smooth black and red appeal, the modularity and room for additional hardware, and its structural stability all come together for a great start into our relationship with this new company.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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